The physics behind Felix Baumgartner’s epic free-fall.

One of Felix's biggest fears was falling into a supersonic flat spin. This clip explores the science behind free-falling and how the team overcome the dangers.

Felix Baumgartner’s team had to anticipate the risks of falling from high altitude. Their biggest fear was that as Felix fell he could become locked in a flat spin and lose consciousness. A flat spin would have been caused by his body becoming aerodynamically unbalanced, sending him into a rotation that he might not be able to escape. If his head was at the centre of the spin, the g-force would pull the blood out of his brain, causing a blackout. If his feet were at the centre, the blood would have pooled in his head, causing a redout or an aneurysm.

Teacher Notes

The clip could be used to stimulate a discussions about gravity, free fall, air resistance and terminal velocity. Can they think of any other times when these dangers need to be overcome?

This is the fifth of six clips from ‘The Science of Space Dive’ and this clip could be used in conjunction with the others.

Curriculum Notes

This clip could be relevant to teaching Science at KS3 and KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 4/5 or Higher in Scotland.